Dear Brett Favre,
Please play against the Patriots this Sunday.
I’m begging you. On behalf of the decent, God-fearin’, pro football-loving people of New England, please start that game.
In the last few days, as there’s been speculation that this might be the end of the line for your consecutive games-played streak, I have to confess a little piece of me died. Because deep down in places I don’t like to talk about at parties, I want you with that ball. I NEED you with that ball. Though probably not for the reasons you think.
I want to see you play Sunday because you’re a fraud. A phony, selfish, overrated, greedy, team-killing, conniving, egomaniacal, self-aggrandizing, pick-throwing, attention-whoring, insufferable fraud.
As a lifelong unabashed Patriots fan, I’d like to see you bring the “Brett Favre Interception Tour ‘10" to town because it’s just the thing for a young defense that’s beginning to form an identity. But as a sports columnist who’s proud to say I was a grassroots organizer of the 'I Hate Brett Favre Party,' I need you. To steal a line from Casablanca, you’re part of my work; the thing that keeps me going.
No matter where you play, no matter which conference you’re in, no matter whether it’s football season or not, you never fail to deliver. You’re an angry sports blogger’s dream. All year long, two weeks can’t go by without you doing something so obnoxious and intolerably self-promoting that it’s almost as if you did it just to cheese me off and give me something to write about.
People talk about Lebron James doing “The Decision” with good reason. It was insanely arrogant and it did damage to his rep that all the two-minute Nike ads in the world won’t repair. But “The Decision” was a public service announcement compared to the egofest we get from you every year. Hell, even the noble shark only gets one week of TV a year. You get months worth of almost non-stop, wall-to-wall, 24-hour coverage of your annual 'Retirement-A-Palooza.'
Years ago when you had your first “official” retirement, ESPN treated us to a week’s worth of Brett Favre tributes. It was as if you (allegedly) hanging up your pads was the death of some important world leader, like Ted Kennedy or Michael Jackson. It was ridiculous, and they were laughingstocks. You think they would’ve learned their lesson. But all these retirements and unretirements later, and they still put camera trucks outside your house every offseason while you pull your annual Bayou Hamlet act. It’s your fault poor Rachel Nichols can’t get any time off in the spring.
But that’s the point of the whole thing. It’s all about you. It’s all about getting attention. And it works. You’re the cleverest, most manipulative and tireless media ho in the world of sports, bar none. The bastard child of Donald Trump and Kate Gosselin wouldn’t be a more relentless self-promoter than you.
All great athletes crave the spotlight. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s painfully obvious by now to anyone capable of high-level reasoning that there’s no length you will not go to shift the focus to you at all times. It takes a special brand of self-absorption to pull the same retirement charade year in and year out and assume we’re still buying that phony-baloney “Aw shucks, Ah’m a go home to Mississippi an’ tahlk things over wit’ Deanna” schtick.
And this is the part that frosts me most: You pull all this crap with the full cooperation of the national sports media. Sure some guys rip you, but we’re voices in the wilderness. To the vast majority, you’re Kim Jong Il and they’re the state run press.
The most recent example was Sunday night this past week. I love Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. But as you started throwing one inexcusable pick after another they... excused them. They blamed Percy Harvin. They blamed Randy Moss. They blamed your ankle and your elbow and eight years of George Bush and the sun being in your eyes and the moon being in Sagittarius ... everything and everyone besides you.
This is how it’s always been. You cast some weird spell on the nation’s football broadcasters that makes them treat you like you’re above reproach. You make even the most objective announcers turn into love-struck fanboys. Crusty old broadcast veterans swoon over you like a 17-year-old goth chick meeting Robert Pattinson in the skinny jeans section at Hot Topic. It’s unfathomable.
Throw a lousy pass into triple coverage and get picked off? “He was just trying to make a play out there.” Make a boneheaded decision? “He’s a Mississippi Riverboat Gambler.” Take a sack instead of throwing the ball away? “He’s not just a quarterback; he’s a football player.” Cost your team a game they should’ve won? “The Ol’ Gunslinger showed a lot of guts ...” It’s like you’re the little kid in “The Twilight Zone” and all the adults want to think happy thoughts around you so you don’t turn them into Jack-in-the-Boxes.
And it’s not just the press. Coaches and teammates fawn over you no matter how damaging it is to their careers. You spent one season in New York, and your head coach named his son after you. I could point out that a few weeks later your unwillingness to run his offense cost him his job, but why spoil the moment?
Your current coach couldn’t have been any more blatant about wooing you to Minnesota if he took out a Match.com personal. “Man seeking egotistical, razor-stubbled coach-killer. No smokers, no fatties.” Even after you Mississippi-Riverboat-Gambled Brad Childress out of the playoffs last year, he sent three players down to your little Fortress of Solitude in the swamp down there to beg you to un-un-un-un-unretire. (Way to treat your teammates, by the way.) And you rewarded Childress’ unctous hero worship by leaking it out there that you think “Chilly doesn’t have a clue about offense.” Based on your history, it’s safe to assume Mrs. Childress won’t be giving birth to a little Brett any time soon.
Of course, to get you back, it cost the team a reworked contract and an extra three million bucks. But as always, you reminded the world that, aw shucks, the money don’t mean nothing. Because like John Madden told us all those years (when we could make out what he was saying with his lips pressed against your butt like that), you’d play for nothing you love the game so much. Right. Depositing the check must have been just another miscue then, like the ones you have at the end of NFC Championship Games.
And I haven’t even gotten to the part where you reportedly harass girls. Or the fact that because you couldn’t keep it inside your Relaxed Fit Wranglers (TM), you left me with no choice but to do my duty as a sleazy sports columnist and look at pictures of your Li’l Gunslinger. Geez, thanks for that.
You’ve managed to do the impossible. You took the great story of an aging, record-setting quarterback who’s too tough to be knocked out of the lineup, and turned it into a joke. You’ve turned an otherwise great career into a pathetic attempt to stroke your own ego and squeeze more millions out of the people who worship you.
And these are the reasons why I hate you. And why I’m asking you to take the field Sunday. The people of New England need you. We haven’t had a truly loathesome, mockable villain in this town since Kobe Bryant last June. So you couldn’t have hit town at a more perfect time. Six other cities have been the recipients of your unique brand of costly turnovers, ego and your megalomania, why not us?
Bear in mind, too, Brett Favre, that you owe us. You’ve got one big, fat, indelible win on your resume, and it was against New England. You were once universally beloved. And Super Bowl XXXI was your coronation. You were the leader of the resurgence of a legendary franchise. The Patriots were the nondescript extras no one cared about. They were the masked wrestler who hails from Parts Unknown. They were the “Visitors” from an episode of “The White Shadow.” The Pats stayed with the script, gave you your moment of glory and made you the legend you are, in your own mind if no one else’s.
So you owe us. Please, please pay us back. Don’t lay down now and subject us to the non-story that is Tavaris Jackson. Play Sunday, sling those guns, gamble those riverboats and by all means keep throwing those picks. We need you now more than ever. Thank you in advance.